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November 10 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann:
“OH, FOR THE DAYS of yore – when men were men and it wasn’t an Eagles season without at least a half-dozen full-throated discussions of the unnatural relationship between Andy Reid and the run-pass ratio.
Instead, it is all about winning games with Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb or whoever at quarterback. It is about having a 5-3 record despite incessant shuffling along the offensive line. It is about keeping things pulled together even though the lead running back (Shady McCoy) has played with a cracked rib, and his presumed running mate (Leonard Weaver) is gone for the season, and his original backup (Mike Bell) flamed out and was traded. It is about staying on pace even though receiver DeSean Jackson has missed nearly a quarter of the quarters played so far.
Through all of this, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are having a really good season, adjusting well to a slew of injuries to key players, and to the quarterback rotation, and to the critical reality that the offensive line was going to struggle to get itself pulled together for the home stretch.
Even if it is impossible to give the most meaningful grade until the end – until we know if Vick can lead the Eagles on a long January run, the only way to justify the short-circuiting of a season of Kolb’s development – it is plain, halfway through the season, that Reid and Mornhinweg have made the most of this rotating series of changes.
And this: that they have somewhat changed the notion of how they want their offense to look. With McCoy replacing the often-injured Brian Westbrook, they have been more willing to lean on their running game – especially out of spread formations. The changes are not seismic but they are noticeable.
November 10 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:
“There are a couple of ways to look at the latest twist in the Great Donovan McNabb Benching Controversy.
The timing couldn’t be better for the Eagles, who will play McNabb and his new team Monday night in Landover, Md. There’s nothing like catching an opponent in this kind of spectacular public disarray.
And Philadelphians can take some comfort in the fact that this is not happening here. Now that the third-rail issue of race has entered the conversation, there’s no way this can end well. We had enough of that inflicted on us when McNabb was here – by Terrell Owens, by Rush Limbaugh, by J. Whyatt Mondesire. Most of us just flinch when a sports conversation takes an unnecessary detour down that particular road.
Sports provide an escape, for the most part, from having to deal with real-world problems. And while issues such as racism, sexism (looking at you, New York Jets), and homophobia certainly affect sports and athletes, they are unwelcome intruders.
Shanahan said immediately after the game that McNabb didn’t know the two-minute offense as well as backup Rex Grossman. As absurd as that sounded – especially after Grossman promptly fumbled the ball and the game away – Shanahan made it worse the next day by changing his story.
Now it was about McNabb’s “cardiovascular” readiness to lead a two-minute offense. Because of injuries to his hamstrings, McNabb wasn’t in the kind of shape he needed to be in. At least that’s what Shanahan said a day later.
A week later, someone inside the team complex in Ashburn, Va., told ESPN “insider” Chris Mortensen that Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, had to cut their playbook in half for McNabb.
All of this led John Feinstein, a nationally respected sportswriter and author of several best-selling books, in a TV appearance Tuesday to accuse Shanahan of “racial coding.” Feinstein also called for Shanahan to be fired.
Heavy stuff. Again, this isn’t some loon with a blog or 10-watt radio show. This is a Washington Post writer of national renown appearing on the Post’s equivalent of Comcast SportsNet’s Daily News Live program.
Let’s start with the obvious in trying to make sense of this. The idea of subtle racism’s being a factor when the team involved is called the Washington Redskins is absurd.
But is it possible that race is an issue between McNabb and the Shanahans? Now we’re into an interesting area. Some background: Years ago, I had a fascinating conversation with someone who personally knew some of the top offensive-minded head coaches in the NFL. We were discussing Andy Reid’s choice of McNabb as the No. 2 pick in the 1999 draft, as his franchise quarterback.
“People don’t think that’s as big a deal as it really is,” the individual said then. “I know for a fact a few of these coaches wouldn’t do it. They’re just not comfortable with an African American quarterback, even now.”
No NFL city is as color-blind when it comes to quarterbacks as Philadelphia, where Michael Vick now succeeds McNabb, Rodney Peete, and Randall Cunningham.”
November 10 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez:
“We should have known. We should have seen it coming. When the rest of the nation needs a convenient villain, Philadelphia invariably is chosen.
The hit Sunday on Colts wide receiver Austin Collie was brutal and unfortunate – a grim reminder that football is a violent game, and careers aren’t promised. After Kurt Coleman and Quintin Mikell collided with Collie, the wideout lay motionless on Lincoln Financial Field. Stadium workers, officials, and medical personnel from both teams – almost 20 people total – immediately attended to Collie. People here and all across the country prayed for his health.
While Collie was down on the turf, something else happened: A replay of the hit – which initially looked like helmet-to-helmet contact and drew a flag from the referees – went up on the giant screens at the Linc. That’s when the boos – directed at the officials for a bad call – started. And that’s when you knew Philly would take another national beating.
It was a mistake to replay the hit in the stadium while Collie still wasn’t moving. It shouldn’t have happened. But it did, and naturally the fans watched. Then they reacted the way fans do when they see a mistake by the referees. The timing was regrettable, but booing the officials had nothing to do with Collie’s situation. It all happened almost simultaneously, and at first it seemed as though some people didn’t realize Collie still hadn’t gotten up. There was a lot happening all at once.
Eventually, the crowd hushed, stopped focusing on the scoreboard, and turned its attention to Collie. As he was taken off the field on a stretcher, the fans showed appropriate respect and concern and clapped for Collie.
Evidently, that didn’t matter. Not to Colts radio play-by-play announcer Bob Lamey or a host of other pundits.
“People who boo that call,” Lamey said during the game, “are out to see people get hurt.”
November 10 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“When young Antonio Dixon spoke, he did so with his fists.
Because when he did open his mouth, the words just wouldn’t come out. Or a long, laborious struggle to get through a sentence would ensue, and that only worsened the plight for Dixon as his peers – as youngsters are wont to do – taunted him unmercifully for his stuttering.
Since he couldn’t respond with a quick comeback or even a “Shut up!” he took matters into his own hands.
“I got into so many fights,” Dixon said recently. “I wouldn’t cry. But I’d fight and then I would cry. I got so many suspensions. I got into so many fights because people were picking on me. Because kids will keep picking and keep picking and keep picking, and I ain’t the type to take it for too long.”
Eventually – probably in high school, Dixon said, when football saved his life – the taunting ended. But the speech impediment remains.
Dixon has overcome a lot in his 25 years – poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, and the drug problems of his parents – to get where he is as a starting defensive tackle for the Eagles. But the stutter he said he’s had “ever since I was born” is a constant reminder of his past.
Though the taunting has stopped, the teasing has not.
“Whenever I meet new people, they make fun of me a few times,” Dixon said.
The Eagles have announced that Michael Vick was named NFC offensive player of the week for his performance against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday.
Vick completed 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 10 times for 74 yards and scored a touchdown.
Vick won NFC offensive-player-of-the-month honors in September.
The Eagles have signed safety Colt Anderson off the Vikings practice squad. To make room, they have cut running back Joique Bell.
The move is likely in response to the neck injury suffered by starting free safety Nate Allen. The Eagles had only been carrying three safeties on the roster, and as of now it is looking very unlikely that Allen will be able to play Monday night.
Fellow rookie Kurt Coleman will likely start in Allen’s place.
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